Monday, May 19, 2014

My Word Spring 2014

It seems implausible that we are now almost hallway through 2014 and in ten days we begin Season 19 of Antiques Roadshow. These six months have been memorable having found a very rare Jefferson peace medal which will now be on view at a museum in the Midwest . We were able to find some other treasures as well that will also appear soon in museums eager to put them on display. In a crazy art world the auctions have still been good to us and some of the clients we represent.  One of our disappointments is having to say goodbye to our two  terrific interns Samantha Mason and Valerie Thompson. Sam will be working for the immediate future in the Dallas areas pursuing a career in management. Valerie is off to the San Francisco Art Institute where she will get a masters in photography.. They both have taught us a great deal. Kim and I are interviewing this summer and look forward to renewing the intern program in the fall with two more candidates. Sam and Valerie will be missed.

The art market continues across all levels except the very high end to be somewhat unpredictable. The potential ban on all ivory continues to be an issue for concern. In the coming months Fish and Wildlife will issue updated regulations that could potentially create more problems for the art and antiques world. We have and will continue to cover this issue as long as necessary. I am concerned about the ability of any government conservative or liberal without opposition to legislate through regulation.. Regardless of our politics I think we need to support candidates that will respect the limits of government and our individual rights. If anyone perceives that to be either  a liberal or conservative agenda, we may be in more trouble than we know.

USPAP From An Intern's Perspective

Earlier this month, ArtTrak appraisers John Buxton and Kim Kolker attended USPAP classes. Unless you’re in the appraisal business—or if you have been in need of an appraiser—chances are you’re not familiar with USPAP, the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice. 

Encountering professional jargon can be frustrating, which is exactly why it’s important to hire an expert to help interpret the things you don’t understand—but where do you find such an expert, and how do you know you’ve picked the right person for the job?

Taking these issues into consideration, we decided to have the ArtTrak intern Sam Mason give her take on USPAP in order to demonstrate why everyone should familiarize themselves with these standards in preparation for their future appraisal needs.

“Fresh out of college and just starting a job, at first this seemed pretty low on my list of priorities,” says ArtTrak intern Sam Mason. “I decided to talk to Kim Kolker and John Buxton about USPAP and why it would be important for me to understand it, the answers to some of my questions surprised me”

As members of the International Society of Appraisers (ISA), Kolker and Buxton are required to take USPAP courses as a means of ongoing education. USPAP regulations are constantly being monitored and updated; a new book is put out every two years to adapt to the needs of clients and appraisers. Simply put, Kolker described the main function of USPAP as “promoting and maintaining the public trust of appraisers.”

Mason probed Kolker for more details on how USPAP can directly affect people in their everyday lives. “All of us will use the services of an appraiser at some time in his/her life—whether that is a real property appraiser (appraises real estate) or a personal property appraiser (appraises objects), It is important that you hire someone following USPAP standards,” said Kolker.

“You might use the services of an appraiser in a number of instances—when valuing your home for resale or refinance, or when you hold an estate sale for your grandmother’s items,” said Kolker. “Perhaps you want to buy an object but don’t know if this particular painting or piece of furniture is worth the offering price. An appraiser could assist you in all of these situations.”

Now that Mason understood the main function of USPAP and the general uses of an appraiser, she wanted to know one last thing—how was it relevant to her and her peers, specifically?

“I finally understood why USPAP was important, but as a graduating college student, I wanted to know the specific scenarios where my knowledge of USPAP might be helpful to me,” said Mason.

Thinking about her own future, Mason came up with several potential real-life situations in which she would want to have a good, USPAP qualified appraiser on her side:
  • I move into a new home and need insurance on the contents, who do I trust to determine their value?
  • A family members dies, leaving me executor of the estate, and I have no idea what to do. Who is qualified to help me?
  • I am involved in a divorce, who do I trust to value community property?
  • A family member sends me a family heirloom for my new house, but it’ shows up broken, who do I trust for the damage claim?

“With a basic understanding of USPAP I can quickly find out if the appraiser is qualified to do my job,” said Mason. “USPAP also informs the public as to proper ethical standards for appraisers.”

Find out more about USPAP on the Appraisal Foundation website, here.

Tribal Art Auctions Spring 2014

Sothebys NY
African, Oceanic and Pre-Columbian Art Including Property from the
Krugier and Lasansky Collections
16 May 2014  New York
Lots 201 - 391
SALE TOTAL:  6,011,690 USD
This was a mixed sale with a number of lesser objects some of which
were bought in. The number of six figure figures brought the sale total
to over $6 million.

Sothebys NY
The Collection of Allan Stone: African, Pre-Columbian & American
Indian Art - Volume Two
16 May 2014   New York
SALE TOTAL:  5,066,255 USD
Lot 1 - 123
This sale also had some uneven quality if the offerings which created a
higher buy in. The high end objects again contributed to the sale total of
over $5 million.

Bonhams NY
African, Oceanic, and Pre-Columbian Art
May 15, 2014
Lot 1 - 201
There were no lots in the six figures. The highlight of the sale was Lot 75 
the  Hooper Maori club  selling for $62,500.

Auctions Around The World - Spring 2014

 Prix de Monaco Historique, the sale saw records tumble as an international audience of bidders scrambled to secure some of the finest historic sports and racing cars ever offered at auction.
MONACO.- Boasting a sale total of €41,303,830 and with an incredible 93 percent of all lots sold, RM Auctions , the world’s largest collector car auction house for investment-quality automobiles, has once again set the collector car market on fire with an incredible performance in Monaco this weekend. Taking place alongside the Grand
With a packed auction room and strong bidding via both telephone and the Internet, the attending audience was treated to an electric atmosphere which lasted through to the final of the 90 lots offered. The top selling car of the night was the simply stunning, and ultra rare 1966 Ferrari 275 GTB/C with coachwork by Scaglietti. Chassis 09067 is the ninth of only twelve such cars produced and perhaps the most original example of its kind, therefore presenting a very rare opportunity indeed. The hammer finally fell at a record-breaking €5,712,000, making it comfortably the most valuable fixed-head Ferrari 275 ever sold at auction. In an evening which once again saw the Ferrari marque dominate and secure six of the top ten prices paid, it was the gorgeous 1959 Ferrari 250 GT Pininfarina Series I Cabriolet, chassis 1181 GT, that generated the second highest bid of the evening, securing €4,704,000 to become the most valuable of its model ever sold at auction. Rounding off the top three sellers was the 1967 Ferrari 330 GTS, chassis 10719, one of ninety-nine built and a multiple concours winner, which found a new home for €2,128,000.
Max Girardo, Managing Director of RM Auctions, Europe, says: “It’s not often I’m lost for words, but I am simply stunned by what we have achieved tonight in Monaco. From a results perspective, this has been our biggest ever European sale and the 93 percent sell through figure is testament to the diversity and depth of quality that we had on offer. The atmosphere and energy was incredible right through to the final lot and it’s a particular delight that we have attracted so many enthusiastic new bidders from all around the world.”
Perfectly matched to a sale taking place in Monaco alongside the Grand Prix de Monaco Historique, the roster of cars on offer included a large number of sports-racing and single-seater grand prix cars. Among the feature lots was the immaculate, race-ready 1966 Brabham-Repco BT20 Formula One car, a significant racer which had been victorious at the 1967 Monaco Grand Prix in the hands of Denny Hulme during his championship-winning year. Boasting that kind of provenance, it was particularly satisfying to see the car achieve €1,092,000, a stunning sum which smashed its pre-sale high estimate of €720,000. The Brabham wasn’t the only lot on offer to have a particularly strong relationship with the principality, as RM also proudly offered the 1958 Riva Tritone also known as ‘Via’. This super-stylish and powerful boat was owned from new by H.S.H. Prince Rainier lll of Monaco and his wife, Princess Grace, and is therefore an important piece of cultural history in the principality. Wonderfully restored and totally stunning, the boat secured €403,200.

NEW YORK, NY.- Simon Shaw, Co-Head of Sotheby’s Worldwide Impressionist & Modern Art Department, commented: “A key factor in tonight’s successes was our longstanding relationships with top collectors, and our partnership with them throughout the sale process – the three works from the Private American Collection that led our sale, Monet’s Le Pont japonais, and more were non-competitive consignments. It was a privilege to offer Picasso’s spectacular Le Sauvetage exactly a decade after we last auctioned it in New York, and we are thrilled to see its price double in that time. We are pleased to once again deliver exceptional results on behalf of a great American institution, with Monet’s Sur la Falaise à Pourville selling for well over its high estimate to benefit the
Acquisitions Fund of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.”
- The impact of significant bidding and buying from Asian collectors was felt throughout the sale, with eight lots purchased by Asian collectors for a total of $63.9 million – nearly 30% of the auction total
o Henri Matisse’s La Séance du matin sold for $19,205,000 to an Asian Private Collector
o Claude Monet’s Le Pont japonais sold for $15,845,000 to an Asian Private Collector
o Alberto Giacometti’s La Place sold for $13,045,000 to an Asian Private Collector
- The auction was led by three works emerging from a private American collection, which together achieved $57.1 million – surpassing their high estimate of $53 million
o Led by Picasso’s Le Sauvetage from 1932 that sold for $31,525,000 after a prolonged bidding battle, soaring over its high estimate of $18 million
§ Le Sauvetage last sold at auction at Sotheby’s New York a decade ago, in May 2004, when it fetched $14.8 million
- Three works by Claude Monet totaled $28 million, led by Le Pont japonais that sold for $15,845,000 to a private Asian collector after a competition between four bidders
o Monet’s Sur la Falaise à Pourville, sold to benefit the Acquisitions Fund of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, achieved $8,229,000, surpassing its high estimate of $7 million
o Over the last 3 years, property from American museums has outperformed high estimates by a combined $100 million at Sotheby’s
- Following Sotheby’s enormously successful of works from the estate of Jan Krugier this February in London, 11 additional works from the estate achieved $32.9 million in tonight’s sale – in excess of their $26.8 million high estimate
o Led by Alberto Giacometti’s Femme de Venise V, which achieved $8,789,000 (est. $6/8 million)
- All five works by Alberto Giacometti on offer in the auction were sold, for a total of $35.1 million
o Led by La Place, Giacometti’s very first multi-figural sculpture, which brought $13,045,000 (est. $12/18 million)
o Tonight’s offering follows Sotheby’s sale of Grande tête mince (Grande tête de Diego) in November of last year for $50 million –the top Impressionist & Modern lot of 2013 worldwide
NEW YORK, NY.- On April 28, 2014, Doyle New York auctioned a pair of rare natural pearls for $3,301,000 -- a world auction record for a pair of natural pearls. They were purchased by an anonymous telephone bidder.
The staggering price far surpassed the prior world record for a pair of natural pearls set last year. In May 2013, Sotheby’s Geneva sold a pair of natural pearls from the collection of Gina Lollobrigida for $2.4 million. That pair broke the earlier record of $1.99 million set by Christie’s New York at the sale of the collection of Elizabeth Taylor in December 2011.
The drop-shaped pearls sold at Doyle New York measured approximately 9/10 inch in height and 1/2 inch wide, and were warm gray in color. They were mounted with antique silver and diamond caps, which were set onto a circa 1920 platinum and diamond pendant.
The pearls were accompanied by a hand-written note referring to the pearls as having belonged to Empress Eugenie of France. In 1887, following the fall of Napoleon III and his wife, Empress Eugenie, an historic auction of the French Crown Jewels took place in the Louvre, lasting twelve days.
The pearls then descended in the family of two prominent industrialists of America’s Gilded Age. They were first purchased by George Crocker (1856-1909), the son of Charles Crocker, who founded the Central Pacific Railroad in California and left a fortune estimated between $300-400 million.
The pearls were later owned by the descendants of Henry Huttleston Rogers (1840-1909) of Massachusetts, an American industrialist who made a fortune as a partner with John D. Rockefeller in Standard Oil and a founder of the Virginia Railroad.
The pearls were accompanied by a report from the Swiss Gemmological Institute SSEF stating that the pearls were natural saltwater pearls with no indications of artificial color modification. The Institute added a special statement describing the pearls in remarkably enthusiastic language, stating: “Assembling a matching pair of natural pearls of this size and quality is very rare and exceptional, and thus this pair of pearls can be considered a very exceptional treasure of nature.”

DENVER, PA.- One of the world’s five finest prehistoric birdstones occupies the top roost in Morphy’s May 17 auction of superior-quality, vetted and fully warranted prehistoric American artifacts. Known as the Parks Birdstone, the celebrated artifact estimated to be around 2,500 years old has remained in the same family since 1951, when it was discovered in a plowed field in DeKalb County, Indiana. It ended up in the collection of renowned collector Cameron Parks, hence the name “Parks Birdstone.”
“Top birdstones have sold privately for $800,000 to $900,000. Because of its mystical and unique blue halo, the Parks Birdstone should set a world record price on May 17th – not only for a birdstone, but also for any North American prehistoric art object,” said John Mark Clark, the department head
and specialist who is supervising the auction.
Another premier entry is an 8-inch-long translucent orange kaolin flint Ross blade from the Hopewell culture that flourished along rivers in the northeastern and Midwestern United States from 200 BC to 500 AD. An exalted ceremonial piece, the blade is described by Clark as “exotic ceremonial regalia so rare it would have been reserved for only the most elite. Now, many centuries later, it is still a prize suitable for only the most select, high-end collection.” The Ross blade is expected to make in excess of $200,000.
Trophy game stones or, “discoidals,” are well represented in the auction. An exquisite, double-cupped example displays impeccable balance and form, while other highly desirable discoidals include one of red and white "flint" with highly polished cups, three exquisite Jersey Bluff-style quartz discs and several of Cahokia style.
What is considered to be the finest cache of Dover flint Copena points yet discovered will add excitement to the auction, along with Earl Townshend's monumental 7-inch Corner Notch Blade. An incredible translucent “white-tipped" sugar-quartz Clovis point is also included in the sale, along with a tremendous Agate Basin spear and coveted projectile points from all cultural time periods.
Prehistoric Caddo and Mississippian-Era pottery will be available, including a solid, unrestored Caddo effigy duck bowl and several pottery bottles and bowls engraved with rare Caddo motifs. A huge human "rattle-head" Mississippian bowl (restored) with a fantastic hairstyle will also be auctioned.
A fine selection of bannerstones includes a ferruginous-quartz hourglass, a speckled-granite rectangular barrel, and a saddleback-style banner of colorful speckle-chunk granite. Perhaps the rarest of the group is an exquisitely made wiry-granite butterfly banner with an engraved barrel, one of only two known.
Another auction highlight is a pair of museum-grade Southern “Dallas” culture limestone ear spools. The prehistoric wearable artworks retain remnants of their original copper-foil covering.
In addition to the satisfaction prehistoric artifact collectors derive from owning remarkable pieces of history such as those to be sold on May 17th, Clark says many in the hobby regard the objects as solid investments.
“From a worldwide perspective, current prices in the North American marketplace are a fraction of what is being paid for comparable examples throughout the rest of the world,” Clark said. “In part, this is attributable to the fact that often such artifacts are not backed by any sort of warranty. Some of the pieces in our upcoming sale have been tucked away quietly in family collections for more than 60 years, and this will be the first time they have ever been offered publicly. But on top of that, Morphy’s stands behind the authenticity of every artifact they sell. This makes a tremendous difference to collectors. They want that comfort factor in place when they bid.”
Morphy’s Saturday, May 17 Prehistoric American Artifacts Auction will begin at 9 a.m. Eastern Time. All forms of bidding will be available, including live online through Morphy Live (, LiveAuctioneers, Proxibid or Invaluable. For additional information on any item in the sale, call 717-335-3435 or email
Note the Morphy birdstone sold for $300,000.

NEW YORK, NY.- Thanks to the trained eye of Antiques Roadshow expert Lark Mason, a twin set of extraordinary 400-year-old Chinese chairs have been reunited and are now up for auction. Against the backdrop of China's momentous history-wars, famines, political tumult and a long list of rulers of wildly varying dispositions-these identical museum-worthy Huanghuali chairs stood side by side, decade after decade, century after century. Then, after all that time, the chairs came to be separated.
According to Mason, the renowned authority in Chinese art and antiquities and the former director of online auctions at Sotheby's, the story of these chairs begins with an American ambassador named Philip Manhard, who as young foreign service officer was stationed in Tientsin in late 1949 and charged with overseeing American interests in China. "It was a tense, confusing time," says Mason. "The Nationalist government fled to Taiwan and the Chinese Communist government took over the country. And it was at this point that Manhard found himself in the advantageous position to make a very noteworthy purchase." Chinese citizens who could get passage out of Tientsin were clamoring to sell prized possessions to the few remaining Western residents, Manhard among them.

Even in a market flooded with heart-stoppingly beautiful furniture, paintings, Imperial ceramics and other objets d'art, says Mason, Manhard could not have failed to recognize the outstanding quality of two 17th-century chairs that must have stood out very conspicuously. Says Mason: "They are simply outstanding. The quality is extraordinary; the condition, superb. The moldings are finely beaded, and the crest rails and handgrips are boldly curved. Is it any wonder Manhard could not resist them?"
Manhard continued his foreign service career, ultimately serving as ambassador to Mauritius. He and his family eventually settled outside of Washington, D.C., where he raised two sons, Philip Jr. and Richard. The pair of chairs were the standouts in a modest household inventory that included an array of other Asian works of art. Manhard passed away in 1998, but not before conveying to each scion one of the chairs. Son Phil moved to Englewood, Fla., and Rick to Sterling, Va., each taking his heirloom with him.
In late 2013, Philip contacted Lark Mason for an opinion. The moment his e-mail arrived with a photo attached, Mason recognized the chair as a masterwork of the Chinese cabinetmaker's craft, dating from the late Ming Dynasty. After a series of conversations about a possible sale, Phil revealed that his chair is one of a pair, a discovery that all the more thrilled Mason, who reached out to Phil's brother, Rick. A visit to him in Virginia resulted in the chair's being brought to New York, where it was reunited with its mate in Lark Mason Associates. The chairs are now being offered for sale as a pair in an auction of works of art that closes on April 30th. (Estimate:$120,000-$180,000).
Chairs of this type rarely have both pierced aprons with upright braces and beaded legs, although both features are individually commonly associated with examples from the late 16th or early 17th centuries. The striking curvature of the S-scrolled splats and the dramatic grain enhance both chairs.
Concludes Mason: "These beautiful chairs are now ready to begin a new chapter in their long, long lives, a chapter that may well take them back to China, the location of their birth, bringing this noteworthy tale full circle."

Sunday, May 18, 2014

In Memorium Spring 2014

Murray Bernard Frum, 1931–2013

In my 40 years of buying, selling, and appraising tribal art I have had very few moments of unbridled joy while trying to sell art. It is obviously an adversarial relationship where both sides have something to win or lose. I still don't enjoy this role but accept it as the means for having tribal art in my life on a daily basis. Occasionally you meet a collector who's passion for the art transcends the mundane aspects of the business transaction. I have been lucky enough to meet  a few collectors that still inspire me today as I recall their love of life and the arts. Kat White, Ray Wielgus, and Murray Frum should all be included in this special category. Although Murray and I were talking just months before his death, I had no idea that he had passed away until reading Sothebys announcement that his collection will be offered at auction. For this oversight I apologize. Murray was a quiet giant in the field that should be remembered often for the art and people he loved and the life he lived. I have reprinted David's eulogy from the Daily Beast.

David Frum

My late mother was only 19 when my father asked her to marry him, young even by the standards of the 1950s. They’d known each other only a very few months. She answered him, “If you’re sure, I’m sure.” Through his lifetime of 81 years, my father’s extraordinary sureness became a rock upon which everyone who knew him rested and trusted.
That rock cracked Monday May 27, at a little past six o’clock in the evening. After a struggle of a little less than seven weeks, my father—a lifelong nonsmoker—died of metastatic lung cancer.
At the beginning of April, he had been in Florence on one of his famous art-sleuthing expeditions. Seven years before, my father had scored one of the great coups of his art-collecting career. He had bought a Baroque bronze of a crucified Jesus. The bronze, heavily overpainted in black, was dismissed by art historians as a product of the “Italian School,” meaning a sculptor too insignificant to merit a name. My father’s friend, the art historian Andrew Butterfield, conclusively proved that the piece was the work of Gian Lorenzo Bernini, the great builder of papal Rome—indeed that it was Bernini’s own personal devotional icon. The piece now overhangs a central gallery of the Art Gallery of Ontario, my father’s gift to his beloved native city of Toronto.
Now my father had a new project in hand. He’d bought a wooden bas-relief of mother and child. The piece was generally thought to be a later copy of a Donatello original. But he had an intuition that the piece was older than previously thought and ... he and Butterfield were on the case ...
My father did not complete that trip. His visit to Florence was cut short by a sudden pain in his leg that prevented him from walking. That was early April. Over the next weeks, my father would be in and out of hospital, as the disease escalated its attacks on his once tall, strong body. The final attack struck on May 15, only three days after the death of my wife’s father, Peter Worthington. On May 24, we brought him home. Medical science had done all it could. Through it all, my stepmother Nancy Lockhart stayed by his side, night and day, caring for him with loving, tireless devotion.
In his book Storm of Steel, Ernst Junger compares the experience of being under artillery fire to being chained to a post while an enemy swings a sledgehammer at your head. So it is with late cancer. The disease erupts now here, now there, until at last the most powerful mind and most intrepid will are overcome.
About my father’s high character and dazzling achievements, there is more to say than I can even begin to describe in this place, at this time. To tell the story will be the task of the eulogy I must begin tonight. Born in poverty, my father rose to great success in business. To the country that had given refuge to his parents, my father returned public service upon public service. He served for years as trustee of the Art Gallery of Ontario and as chairman of the Stratford Shakespeare Festival. He supported charities too numerous to mention. He helped to launch the careers of two of Canada’s most famous architects, Howard Sutcliffe and Bridgette Shim, many of whose designs grace his home, including a small garden pavilion in which my wife and I were married in 1988.
My father was a man of easy learning, of hilarious wit, of generous temper, and of high ethics. He was a devoted husband in two happy marriages, first in the joy of youth to my mother Barbara Frum, and then to Nancy, who delighted his later years. In the lives of my sister Linda and myself, and of our children—his grandchildren—he was a presence both awe-inspiring and tender. It was to his counsel that I turned again and again in moments of doubt and uncertainty.
Two funerals in one month are much for any family to bear. The work of mourning is a heavy work. Readers will have noticed that blogging by me has been light, with Justin Green shouldering most of the task of operating this page. I fear I will be even more AWOL in the days ahead. I have published online with seldom more than a day or two of interruption continuously since October 2002. In that time, I have come to know so many remarkable people through this medium, so remote and yet so intimate—made even more intimate by the addition of Twitter. I have been warmed by so many kindnesses and good wishes from so many people during this grim month, one made even grimmer by my wife’s hospitalization for appendicitis just as her father was dying. I am grateful for every generous word.
I’ll post notice here of the details of the public memorial service for the interest of Toronto-area readers and then the text of my eulogy, for (as the poet says) we must

Give sorrow words: the grief that does not speak

Whispers the o’er-fraught heart and bids it break.
Pasted from <>

Museums Around the World 2014

1.  INDIANAPOLIS, IN.- Dr. Charles L. Venable, The Melvin & Bren Simon Director and CEO of the Indianapolis Museum of Art, announced the appointments of Dr. Christian Feest and Dr. Constantine Petridis as the next Mellon Curators-at-Large Program scholars. Feest and Petridis will assess the entirety of the IMA’s Native American and African collections, respectively, concentrating on the aesthetic quality of pieces as works of art and their historical importance.
  One of the world’s leading experts on Native American art, Dr. Christian Feest has studied Native American collections in Europe and America for more than 50 years, with much of his work focusing on the early collecting of Native American material in central Europe and the accurate documenting of those collections. He is the author of numerous books and articles in the Native American field.
  Commenting on his upcoming work at the IMA, Feest said, “The Native American collections at the IMA were neither systematically developed, nor have they ever been the subject of extensive research. So there is much work to be done. The Early C. Townsend Collection of prehistoric material will merit special attention as the largest group of objects, as will the Admiral Albert P. Niblack collection from Alaska, the most historically important collection at the IMA.”
  In addition, Feest is hoping to further develop already existing collaborations with the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis and The Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art, both of which have substantial holdings of Native American art.
 Dr. Constantine Petridis has been active in the field of African art for nearly 25 years, both as a
 “I am particularly interested in having a closer look at those works in the IMA’s African collection that appear quite extraordinary or extremely rare. The donor of the vast majority of the IMA’s African holdings, Harrison Eiteljorg, collected on a massive scale and from a wide variety of sources. The ability to systematically study the collection with new research in mind is most exciting,” said Petridis.
 Initiated in 2011, after the IMA received a $1.025 million grant from The Andrew W. Mellon
 “Having gotten to know Christian Feest over the past few years and Constantine Petridis during my time at the Cleveland Museum of Art, I am thrilled to have them coming to Indianapolis to engage with our staff and other colleagues while researching our Native American and African collections ,” said Venable. “The Mellon Curator-at-Large program has allowed us to advance the understanding of our permanent collection by having exceptional guest scholars in residence, and we are most grateful to the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for making this possible.”
 Christian Feest was born in Broumov, Czech Republic. Presently Feest serves as a Guest Curator at the Speed Art Museum in Louisville, KY and the Lokschuppen Museum in Rosenheim, Germany. In addition, since 1968, Feest has curated or co-curated numerous exhibitions at the world-renowned Museum of Ethnography in Vienna, where he was director from 2004 to 2010. Since 2004, Feest has taught as an Associate Professor at the University of Vienna, from which he earned his PhD in 1969, and has also held professorships at the University of Chicago and the Johann Wolfgang Goethe Universität.
 Constantine Petridis was born and educated in Belgium. He has been Curator of African Art at the Cleveland Museum of Art since January 2002, and in 2007 Co-Chaired the Coordination of the Interpretation for a new installation of the collection. From 2005 to 2008, Petridis also served as Consulting Curator at the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto, Canada, where he oversaw the installation of the renowned Frum Collection of African Art. He has held pre- and postdoctoral fellowships from the Belgian National Fund for Scientific Research, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Belgian American Educational Foundation. Petridis holds an MA in art history and archaeology (1991) and a PhD in art history (1997), both from the University of Ghent in Belgium.
Foundation, the program has allowed the IMA to engage renowned scholars in conducting cutting-edge research on the IMA’s collections while simultaneously experimenting with new ways of enhancing scholarly breadth across a large and encyclopedic collection. Drs. Feest and Petridis are the first scholars appointed to the Mellon Curators-at-Large program since Dr. Venable became the Melvin and Bren Simon Director & CEO in late 2012.  scholar and a curator, and has had the privilege to work with a wide variety of private and public collections in both Europe and the United States.

2.  BIRMINGHAM. AL.- After two years of renovations, the Birmingham Museum of Art reopened its African galleries on Saturday, April 26.
  “Over the past several decades, the Birmingham Museum of Art has built an exceptional collection
of African art, one that beautifully reflects the ethnic, cultural, and religious diversity of the many regions in Africa,” say Gail Andrew, R. Hugh Daniel Director of the Birmingham Museum of Art. “The new geographic orientation of the gallery created by Dr. Hanna underscores the vast and distinctive art forms that have existed in Africa for thousands of years and those which are being developed today. The gallery offers visitors the opportunity to explore the collection in an entirely new way.”
  The renovated gallery space features many changes in the presentation of the collection. The collection is now organized geographically, grouping works from the same regions. Large maps, located throughout the gallery, will assist visitors in easily locating the origin of a particular work. The space will also be equipped with a large flat screen, designed to enhance the gallery experience by featuring supplemental media such as documentary footage of art in production and contemporary art composed digitally. In addition, the Museum has collaborated with Jefferson
County teachers to develop an interactive African Proverbs project, which will reveal to visitors the relationship between proverbs and art in Africa.
  “Africa is a continent of enormous diversity, home to over fifty countries, and hundreds of ethnic groups, cultures, languages, religions, and traditions. Our gallery is now organized in a way that celebrates this wide-ranging, but interconnected expanse of African art across the continent,” says Emily Hanna, Curator of the Arts of Africa and the Americas. “In the gallery, I’ve created a very vibrant, engaging space that includes more of our collection, including textiles, clothing, jewelry, and large color photographs that show objects being used or worn. Visitors will appreciate the new design features as they trace their way through history and the magnificent art of Africa. ”
  The African collection at the Birmingham Museum of Art comprises more than 1,600 objects from across the continent of Africa. The collection represents all major regions and artistic styles from 1500 BC forward. The works of art include masks, figure sculpture, textiles, ceramics, household and ritual objects, jewelry, musical instruments, currencies, furniture, clothing, and costume. The first part of the gallery renovation was completed in 2013 and resulted in a space for the display of the Museum’s impressive collection of African ceramics.

 3. KANSAS CITY, MO.- A groundbreaking exhibition of Plains Indian masterworks, The Plains Indians: Artists of Earth and Sky, opened in Paris at musée du quai Branly on April 7. It was organized by quai Branly in partnership with theNelson-Atkins, and in collaboration with The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. It is curated by Gaylord Torrence, one of the nation’s leading scholars of Plains Indian art and the Fred and Virginia Merrill Senior Curator of American
Indian Art at the Nelson-Atkins.
  “This exhibition is a defining moment in the understanding of Native American art,” said Julián Zugazagoitia, Menefee D. and Mary Louise Blackwell Director & CEO of the Nelson-Atkins. “The works on view convey the continuum of hundreds of years of artistic tradition, and we are very proud of the role the Nelson-Atkins has played in this exhibition.”
  To celebrate this milestone exhibit that has brought the Nelson-Atkins to the international stage, Board Chair Shirley Bush Helzberg and Zugazagoitia attended the Paris opening with a group of Kansas City patrons. Festivities surrounding the opening celebrate the Nelson-Atkins stature in the field of Native American Art and Torrence’s scholarship in the area of Plains Indian art, as well as his deep ties of many years to the Native American community.
 Stéphane Martin, President of quai Branly, traveled to the United States in 2010 to explore his idea for an exhibition on the art of the Plains Indians. On his tour, he visited the new and highly acclaimed American Indian galleries at the Nelson-Atkins and invited Torrence to curate the Plains show at quai Branly.
 “This exhibition captures the beauty and spiritual resonance of Plains Indian art,” said Torrence
. “The objects embody both the creative brilliance of their individual makers and the meanings and power of profound cultural traditions.”
 More than 130 works of art from 57 European, Canadian, and American institutions and private collections are being displayed in an unprecedented continuum from pre-contact to the present-day. Featured works include numbers of the great early Plains Indian robes, and other masterworks collected in the eighteenth century by European explorers and taken back to the continent never to return to America until now.
The Plains Indians will be on view at quai Branly until July 20, 2014, then travel to the Nelson-Atkins from Sept. 19, 2014 to Jan. 11, 2015. The show culminates at the Metropolitan Museum from March 2 to May 10, 2015.

 4. CINCINNATI, OH.- The Cincinnati Art Museum Board of Trustees today announced an interim management structure for the Art Museum as it searches for its next Director: David Linnenberg, Chief Administrative Officer, will serve as the institution’s Interim Director of the Museum. Cincinnati Art Museum Director, Aaron Betsky, who announced his retirement January 2, 2014, will step down May 1, 2014.
  “It was important that we establish interim management as we continue our national search for a new Director,” said Martha Ragland, President of the Museum’s Board of Trustees. “As Interim
Director, Dave Linnenberg will carry out the strategic plan currently in place while managing the day-to-day operations and excellent programs at the Cincinnati Art Museum.”
  Linnenberg joined the Cincinnati Art Museum in 2010 as Deputy Director of Institutional Advancement and was promoted to Chief Administrative Officer in 2012.
  The Interim Director will continue the focus of implementing the mission of the Cincinnati Art Museum, which is bringing people and art together.
  While Linnenberg serves as Interim Director, the Search Committee of the Board of Trustees will continue the national search to select the Art Museum’s next Director. In January the Cincinnati Art Museum hired executive search firm Russell Reynolds Associates to conduct a national search to replace Aaron Betsky, who served as Director for more than seven years.

5. OTTAWA.- Charles Edenshaw was recognized in his time as an outstanding Haida artist and remains an iconic figure in Northwest Coast art. Working in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries (1829-1920), he was an exceptional carver of wood, silver and argillite, combining traditional Haida
design with an innovative and elegant personal style, and raising Northwest Coast art to new heights of sophistication.
On view from March 7 to May 25, 2014, at the National Gallery of Canada, the Vancouver Art
Gallery’s exhibition Charles Edenshaw marks the first major survey of Edenshaw’s work, featuring 80 of his best artworks selected from his exceptional carvings in wood, argillite and silver and gathered from public and private collections throughout North America.
“We are very proud to present this exhibition, which offers a unique opportunity to appreciate the great elegance of Haida artist Charles Edenshaw’s masterful works. Edenshaw is a key figure in Canadian art,” said NGC Director and CEO Marc Mayer.
“This exhibition is important in many ways,” said Haida Chief and exhibition advisor James Hart. “All the pieces that Charles created carry the respect of his people, ancestors and his family. To remain connected to both this line of important Haida cultural prerogatives and the changing ways of our future, we must carry on, in the Haida Way.”
The exhibition presents a wide range of objects that Edenshaw created during his lifetime, from traditional objects that he made for family members to elaborately carved model poles, platters and other objects produced for trade with Europeans.
“The arts play a critical role in representing our history and culture in the local community as well as across the country,” said Senior Vice President, Business Banking, TD Bank Group, Chris Dyrda. “Exhibits like this offer access to knowledge and inspiration – and as a supporter of the arts, we are thrilled to help bring Charles Edenshaw’s masterpieces to this gallery for residents and visitors alike.”
A career overview over four themes
Examining his remarkable aesthetic achievements, the exhibition focuses on four predominant
themes: Edenshaw’s advancement of traditional formline design; his ability to animate Haida stories in his carving; his interest in new materials and visual ideas that led to innovative cultural hybrids; and, finally, his deep-seated belief in Haida traditions, which gave him the agility and fortitude to thrive as a Haida artist during oppressive colonial rule.
“Edenshaw left a legacy through his work and we are blessed that he committed his whole life to creating art for us to enjoy and study,” said Robert Davidson. “The magic of Edenshaw’s work embodies millennia of development of Haida art. One can relearn the magic and integrity of the history of the art form by studying his work.”

6. JERUSALEM.- By ANNA RUSSELL Wall Street Journal March 21, 2014 8:43 p.m.
The Israel Museum brings together for the first time a rare group of 9,000-year-old stone masks, the oldest known to date, in a groundbreaking exhibition opening in March. Culminating nearly a decade of research, Face to Face: The Oldest Masks in the World showcases twelve extraordinary Neolithic masks, all originating in the same region in the ancient Land of Israel. On view from March 11 through September 13, 2014, the exhibition marks the first time that this group will be displayed together, in their birthplace, and the first time that the majority of them will be on public view.
Originating from the Judean Hills and nearby Judean Desert, the twelve masks on view each share striking stylistic features. Large eye holes and gaping mouths create the expression of a human skull. Perforations on the periphery may have been used for wearing them, for the attachment of hair, which would have given the masks a more human appearance, or for suspending the masks from pillars or other constructed forms. Based on similarities with other cultic skulls of ancestors found in villages of the same period, the masks are believed to have represented the spirits of dead ancestors, used in religious and social ceremonies and in rites of healing and magic. By recreating human images for cultic purposes, the early agricultural societies of Neolithic times may have been expressing their
increasing mastery of the natural world and reflecting their growing understanding of the nature of existence.
"It is extraordinary to be able to present side by side this rare group of ancient stone masks, all originating from the same region in the ancient Land of Israel," said James S. Snyder, Anne and Jerome Fisher Director of the Israel Museum. "That we have been able to assemble so many – first for intensive comparative research and then for display – is a tribute to the collections that were so cooperative in making these treasures available to us. And, given their origins in the region and the context provided by the adjacent setting of our Archaeology Wing, their display in our Museum in Jerusalem carries special meaning, underscoring their place in the unfolding history of religion and art."
The current presentation is the result of more than a decade of research. For many years, the Israel Museum has held in its collections two Neolithic stone masks–one from a cave at Nahal Hemar in the Judean Desert and the other from Horvat Duma in the nearby Judean Hills. A chance discovery of photographs of similar masks led Dr. Debby Hershman, the Museum’s Curator of Prehistoric Cultures, to begin to research the subject. Hershman enlisted the assistance of Professor Yuval Goren, an expert in comparative microarchaeology at Tel Aviv University, to explore the masks' geographical origins, as well as of the computerized archaeology laboratory at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem to conduct 3-D analysis that shed light on their comparative features and functions. The current display reflects the fruits of this in-depth research, bringing together twelve striking and enigmatic masks near the place of their origin and for the first time.
Face to Face is curated by Dr. Debby Hershman, Ilse Katz Leibholz Curator of Prehistoric Cultures. The exhibition and its accompanying publication were made possible through the generosity of Judy and Michael Steinhardt, New York, and with additional support from the donors to the Museum’s 2014 Exhibition Fund: Claudia Davidoff, Cambridge, MA, in memory of Ruth and Leon Davidoff; Hanno D. Mott, New York; the Nash Family Foundation, New York; and Yad Hanadiv, the Rothschild Foundation in Israel.

7. NEW YORK, NY.- Thomas P. Campbell, Director and CEO of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, announced today that more than 400,000 high-resolution digital images of public domain works in the Museum’s world-renowned collection may be downloaded directly from the Museum’s website for non-commercial use—including in scholarly publications in any media—without permission from the Museum and without a fee. The number of available images will increase as new digital files are added on a regular basis.
In making the announcement, Mr. Campbell said: “Through this new, open-access policy, we join a growing number of museums that provide free access to images of art in the public domain. I am delighted that digital technology can open the doors to this trove of images from our encyclopedic collection.”
The Metropolitan Museum’s initiative—called Open Access for Scholarly Content (OASC)
—provides access to images of art in its collection that the Museum believes to be in the public domain and free of other known restrictions; these images are now available for scholarly use in any media. Works that are covered by the new policy are identified on the Museum’s website with the acronym OASC. (Certain works are not available through the initiative for one or more of the following reasons: the work is still under copyright, or the copyright status is unclear; privacy or publicity issues; the work is owned by a person or an institution other than the Metropolitan Museum; restrictions by the artist, donor, or lender; or lack of a digital image of suitable quality.)
OASC was developed as a resource for students, educators, researchers, curators, academic publishers, non-commercial documentary filmmakers, and others involved in scholarly or cultural work. Prior to the establishment of OASC, the Metropolitan Museum provided images upon request, for a fee, and authorization was subject to terms and conditions.
— Getty CEO Pushes Tech: James Cuno, the president and CEO of the J. Paul Getty Trust, is pushing the use of technology in museums. He believes the use of mapping techniques, network analysis, and visualizations could lead to art historical discoveries. “The history of art as practiced in museums and the academy is sluggish in its embrace of the new technology,” he said. “We aren’t conducting art historical research differently. We aren’t working collaboratively and experimentally." [WSJ]

8. ABU DHABI  Louvre Abu Dhabi Unveils Collection: The Louvre Abu Dhabi will unveil part of its permanent collection in an exhibition titled “Birth of a Museum,” organized at The Louvre in Paris to open in May. [Art Daily]

Art Galleries Around the World Spring 2014

1. JEDDAH.- Ayyam Gallery Jeddah presents Contemporary Arabia, a multimedia exhibition featuring a selection of established and emerging Arab artists, including Samia Halaby, Tammam Azzam, and Shaweesh, being held 5 May until 13 June 2014.

 Contemporary Arabia will mark the first time a broad survey of Ayyam Gallery’s stable of artists has been shown in the Kingdom. Representing several generations of painters and photographers from across the region, this forthcoming group show will highlight the myriad ways that today’s painters and photographers are exploring the intricacies of modern life through such themes as the impact of globalisation, the presence of militarised conflicts, and the oversaturation of media that has redefined our everyday existence. Other points of departure include explorations of form, such as visceral uses of colour, symphonic brushwork, and ethereal compositions, as springboards for sensory associations.

 In his ongoing Dream series, Syrian painter Safwan Dahoul unearths the psychology of solitude, depicting moments of crisis as a place of confinement, whether the death of a loved one, periods of estrangement, or the onset of political conflict. Through a recurring female protagonist whose Pharaonic eyes and calligraphic body situates her fragile state as of a phenomenon from time immemorial, Dahoul underscores the fragility of man amidst the variability of experiential realities.

 In a playful body of photographs, Saudi artist Huda Beydoun explores the anonymity of public spaces and the interactions of random passersby as daily happenings unfold on city streets. During a trip to Morocco, Beydoun captured the scenes of her Tagged and Documented series by focusing on the routine action of urban settings while also framing the details of the different environs that define social organisation although outwardly banal. Adorning her subjects with Mickey Mouse heads in silhouette and matching attire, she adds a sense of whimsy with a nod to the reach of consumerist culture to what might otherwise constitute as rituals of the mundane.

 Palestinian painter Oussama Diab utilises a conceptual approach to painting by appropriating the iconic markers and styles of seminal art movements to underscore the complexities of political conflict and exile. Ranging in neo-expressionist canvases employing symbolist imagery derived from popular culture to a more recent realist body of work that places images associated with violence in settings that are historically reserved for sanctified subjects, Diab locates the intersections of visual culture and politics, emphasising how imagery has become one of the most powerful forms of mediation.

The exhibition will also feature artists engaging regional traditions such as Syrian painter Mouteea
 Murad who reinterprets the aestheticised harmony of Islamic art and adheres to its bases in spirituality, mathematics, and the natural sciences. Through vivid, geometrically precise compositions, Murad articulates a sense of splendour in the world around him as confirmation of the sublime.and International law at Hofstra University, says of China’s potential cooperation, “They generally don’t have a policy of co-operating, and don’t have any reason to turn anyone over, because the US won’t turn anyone over to China.”

Knoedler Forger Escapes to China: Pei-Shen Qian, who is accused of forging works by artists like Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko as part of the Knoedler Gallery scandal, may escape charges of wire fraud as he has fled to China. The 75-year-old painter was previously living in Queens with his wife, and holds dual Chinese and American citizenship. Professor Julian Ku, an expert on China and International law at Hofstra University, says of China’s potential cooperation, “They generally don’t have a policy of co-operating, and don’t have any reason to turn anyone over, because the US won’t turn anyone over to China.” [The Guardian]

National Gallery Of Australia to Give Up Shiva

India requesting quick return of the looted Dancing Shiva
By Derek Fincham on  March 29, 2014 —

The 900-year-old dancing Shiva statue was removed from display
The case of the looted Dancing Shiva statue has evolved very quickly. Andrew Sayers, the director of the National Gallery of Australia has resigned. And now the Indian government wants the looted material returned:
The Indian government formally requested the return of a 900-year-old Dancing Shiva statue from the National Gallery of Australia and a stone sculpture of the god Ardhanarishvara from the Art Gallery of NSW last week.
The Attorney-General’s Department issued a statement on Wednesday saying that the Art Gallery of NSW had “voluntarily removed” its sculpture from public display – one day after it was announced the National Gallery would remove its allegedly looted statue from exhibition.
Both artefacts were bought from antiquities dealer Subhash Kapoor, who is on trial in India for looting and wanted in the United States for allegedly masterminding a large-scale antiquities smuggling operation.
A first secretary of India’s High Commission, Tarun Kumar, said it was “our expectation” both statues would be returned to India. “We expect a decision in that regard will be taken within the next month,” he said.
A spokeswoman for the Attorney-General’s Department said on Wednesday that there was no time limit in the legislation for responding to the Indian government’s request.
The Canberra-based National Gallery paid $US5 million for the Dancing Shiva statue in February 2008. The statue was one of 22 items it bought from Mr Kapoor’s Art of the Past gallery for a total of $11 million between 2002 and 2011.
Read more:
New York Lawsuit shows due diligence pays, as much as $5m
By Derek Fincham on February 12, 2014 — 3 Comments
The Shiva bronze statue which the National Gallery of Australia purchased in 2008 for $5 million
A lawsuit filed in New York State court last week could provide one of the strongest disincentives yet to dealing in looted cultural objects. Subhash Kapoor‘s gallery in New York, Art of the Past, has been sued for a laundry list of private law violations; including “fraud, rescission, unjust enrichment, contractual indemnity, and breach of contract” based on the sale of this bronze statue known as Shiva as Lord of the Dance (Nataraja). The plaintiff is the Australian gallery which purchased this work in 2008.
This lawsuit is exactly what should happen when a purchaser with clean hands purchases a work of art from a dealer who knew that a work of art was looted or stolen. I’ve argued before that acquisitions like this defraud the legitimate trade in works of art, and also corrupt our understanding of history.
Chasing Aphrodite asks:
The NGA lawsuit, to our knowledge, is unprecedented. American museums and private collectors have returned hundreds of looted objects to Italy, Greece, Turkey, India, Cambodia and other countries in recent years. In nearly all those cases, dealers had provided standard warranties guaranteeing good title to the objects. And yet not one museum or collector had filed a similar lawsuit…that we know of.

So why haven’t lawsuits like this occurred with more regularity? Here’s why I think they have been rare. They should be happening every time looted art is repatriated.  As any first year law student learns, if someone sells you stolen property, every legal system allows you to bring an action against the launderer of stolen property. But this has not happened in the antiquities trade for a couple reasons. First, many curators and museum officials had too much knowledge of the illicitness of objects they were acquiring. A lawsuit like this would have embarrassed institutions like the Getty or the Met or the MFA in Boston by raising uncomfortable question about what due diligence was taken before an acquisition. In this case, it seems as if the National Gallery of Australia is comfortable in defending its due diligence procedures to a court. The NGA alleges in its complaint that it undertook due diligence procedures, while also relying on the warranties given by Art of the Past. But the NGA asked the Art loss register if the statue was stolen, examined letters from the previous owner of the statue, consulted the ‘Tamil Nadu Police website’, checked the records produced by the Archaeological Survey of India, and finally consulted with a bronze expert in India who supported the acquisition.
Perhaps another reason that a suit like this is unique, is the secret nature of the art trade itself. Buyers and sellers are anonymous. But that is changing. When you can trace the path of material through the various purchasers, the market for illicit material shrinks. And that is a very good thing, and why we should all watch this suit in New York closely.
NATIONAL GALLERY OF AUSTRALIA v. ART OF THE PAST INC, Docket No. 650395/2014 (N.Y. Sup Ct. Feb. 06, 2014)